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What Kevin Sumlin said after Arizona’s loss to Oregon State

arizona-wildcats-football-practice-2020-preseason-OTA-coronavirus-schedule-meetings Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats, new defensive coordinator and all, were blasted by the Oregon State Beavers 56-38 on Saturday at Arizona Stadium as the fell to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the Pac-12 heading into a bye week.

Our full recap can be read here, and here is what UA coach Kevin Sumlin had to say afterwards.

On the defensive struggles: “We couldn’t stop the run particularly on the perimeter, on the edges, by changing fronts and the adjustment to a couple things when they (went to) bunch formations, that adjustment really didn’t happen fast enough because it was a little bit different in the second half, particularly third quarter. But we need to be able to stop the run. And then we cut loose a couple guys wide open right, some miscommunication in the secondary. So it was a combination of a couple things.”

On if the miscommunication had something to do with having a new defensive coordinator: “Yeah. I gotta look at the tape, but the communication was obviously an issue in the secondary when you got guys that wide open at different times”

On if effort was an issue: “I don’t know. I gotta look at the tape. It has not been an issue this whole year. ... With everything that happened, we drive down the field and I call timeout just so we can if we kick the field goal there, if we make it, it becomes a one-score game. ... We had some momentum, we had made some stops defensively, and we moved the ball offensively. But we missed the field goal, and then it kind of deflated us, I think. So these guys effort-wise, that hasn’t been a problem and to try to get back in the game, guys like J.J. (Taylor), his effort was phenomenal tonight, right? I mean, he’s a leader by example. He ran hard, he made guys miss, he caught balls. We said we wanted to get him into the 30s touches wise and he got close. So with the issues we’re having health-wise in our offensive line, I thought his performance was outstanding”

On how to avoid finger-pointing during a long losing streak: “We just had a conversation about that, so that’s been openly addressed in locker room before it came up here. And that’s important because when things go well, it’s easy for everybody, right? So when things happen the way they’ve happened last few weeks, it’s important to stick together and be a team. When you win a bunch of games, you don’t need to listen to the outside noise. And when you hit a deal like we are right now, what’s important is what’s said in this building and what’s been said in that locker room. And you got really one choice, and that’s to keep fighting. And the way to keep fighting is to stay together and do that.”

On what can be accomplished during the bye week: “I think you can accomplish a lot. The first thing we can accomplish as a team is try to get healthy in the next two weeks. And we got to make some decisions. We had to use (freshman offensive lineman) Jordan Morgan today for his fourth game. Jordan was always ready, he’s been practicing with the other guys, but that’s his fourth game. The (redshirt) rule helped us because we wouldn’t have made it through there without him today when Donovan (Laie) got hurt and we had two guys (Josh McCauley and Bryson Cain) go down on one play.

“So for us the bye physically comes at an opportune time for us. Not just one week but two weeks for some of the guys who are struggling physically. And the mental part becomes important too in a bye week, where you can practice and do some things schematically, make some decisions about where guys are and when they’re playing.”

On Grant Gunnell’s performance: “He did some good things, and he did some good things in the first half also. ... He had two touchdown drives in the first half. ... But in this game life pays off in results not numbers. And he’s been in a position where we’re playing catch up and I think with everything that was going on and where we were in the ballgame, I thought he operated. He made some mistakes and some reads as a freshman, but he used his legs today and no turnovers. So from that standpoint, based on the blitzes that we were getting and the line that was in front of him, I thought he did about as good a job as he could do.”

On if there is a decision to make at QB: “I think we’ve gone down that road the last couple weeks. We feel good about both those guys but when we go through this this next week, where guys are health-wise, it matters. And for all positions.”

On how the makeshift O-line played: “That’s why I gotta look at [the tape] because every series it was a different group in there. We had guys coming on and off. Moving Paiton Fears around. Jordan Morgan had to go and play for Donovan Laie, so we had some times where we just got flat beat. But physically it was an issue with some guys be able to move but it gave us an opportunity to get some other guys in there and I gotta look at it but those guys went in there and battled.”

On how realistic it is to make major defensive changes this late in the season: “The bye week helps. So we just gotta go back to the drawing board. One week is one week but the bye week gives you two weeks basically to really hone in on what you can do with personnel. And if there needs to be changes, you’ve got some time right now.”

On Lucas Havrisik’s missed field goal and extra point: “He’s been battling some things. Once you see him not being able to consistently kick it on kickoffs, we’ve just gotten used to not covering kicks in the last couple weeks. But this bye week comes at a good time for him too to get him healthy, because he hasn’t been 100 percent for the last couple weeks.”

On if J.J. Taylor playing hard to the final whistle is something to show the rest of the team: “You bet. He plays like that all the time, regardless of score, regardless of situation. That’s who he is. You want to have 100 of those guys on your team. He’s a leader by example, doesn’t say much, but is extremely effective. And yes, you can point to that as here’s how you’d like for everybody to play.”